Digital Humanity: Professing in Novel Times—Episode Four

This week Steven and I met up for a virtual hallway chat with Eamonn O’Laocha a Douglas College Faculty Member in the Department of Business Management. Among other things, Eamonn is working with the Douglas College Facilitating Faculty Online Group and kindly shared some of his observations about the challenging path facing faculty. In addition, Eamonn spoke to some of the work he is doing to address tech inequity and access to education.

To learn more about his work check the full article  https://www.douglascollege.ca/about-douglas/news-and-media/news/2020/May/digital-devices-donations. Eamonn’s interview is full of excellent insights and reminds us all of the importance of understanding the ‘novel’ times we are in. 

We would like to acknowledge that we live, learn, work, and play on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples of the QayQayt and Kwikwetlem First Nations.

Dr. Eamonn O’Laocha
Dialogue with Eamonn, Lisa, and Steven—June 23, 2020

Eamonn referred to the work of Paulo Friere in the recording; here is a link to more information about Friere: https://infed.org/mobi/paulo-freire-dialogue-praxis-and-education/

When things go sour

Like many in quarantine, I decided to try making sourdough bread. I pulled the neglected jar of starter out of the fridge and read the instructions from the friend who had given it to me months earlier. I realized the starter did not look too good, texted my friend for further directions, and accepted the response that I had been a “bad bad boy”.  

Neglected starter

After resuscitating the starter, and following the recipe, I succeeded in baking a passable bread. My subsequent attempts were disappointing. One time I had to bake the dough because it was so sticky, I otherwise could not figure out how to dispose of it.

way too sticky

I do not like failure; so, I kept trying. Other people’s recipes and suggestions, internet searches, the Tartine Bread book, live chat with an experienced baker. I was still making less than hoped for loaves….

One over-tasking, multi-pressured morning, I lost it. I blamed the crummy scale that kept turning off midway through refreshing the starter. I blamed the recipes, the flour, the water, the process itself, the absurdity of life. I felt discouraged and angry at the whole endeavor. As my fit subsided, I did a bit of self-reflection (and apologizing). That is when the thought came to me, maybe many of the instructors I had been trying to support over the last many weeks in the sudden transition to remote teaching were experiencing analogous frustrations with Blackboard, online anything/everything, and technology in general. Maybe my frustration had some parallel to what instructors feel when they are trying to learn unfamiliar tools and strategies—following the various “recipes” provided.

The little leaven of fellow-feeling activated something in me. Learning a new skill is hard work. Learning under pressure, in new environments, and in isolation is even harder. The loaves are getting more consistent, the process more familiar, the bread delicious and well-raised.

Baking bread is nothing like remotely instructing dozens of young people, and ensuring they have the best possible educational experience. Producing an instructional environment is necessary. Not the only, but a very important, aspect of instruction. Each iteration shows development and improvement. Maybe analogous to bulk fermentation. Rest and “folding in” are critical elements as well… the analogies keep coming – (“faculty mentors are like sourdough starter” “too much incorporated fermentation is like an over-bloated course”) – I think you get the idea.

I am a beginner, learning to value processes. My own, and those I am attempting to support, and feel humbled and encouraged to keep going. I have a growing appreciation for the opportunity to work with so many fine educators.

when things go sour, add some flour

We would like to acknowledge that we live, learn, work, and play on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples of the QayQayt and Kwikwetlem First Nations.

Switch!

A conversation with Angela Heino, Learning Strategy and Quality Coordinator in Health Sciences, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) faculty at Douglas College.

Photo courtesy of BCcampus_News CC BY-NC 2.0

Angela is one of two instructors in the BSN program currently teaching N2215: Leadership and Interprofessional Collaboration (IPC) course. This class encourages reflection on various aspects of leadership and IPC while providing students with the opportunity to engage in the lived experience of interprofessional education (IPE) as well. In this course, students explore the roles and responsibilities of team members to both patients/families as well as to the other members of the health care team. This process draws on various viewpoints and acknowledges the diverse knowledge and skill-sharing required of a successfully integrated team. Students learn strategies for facilitating interdependent collaboration, explore ways of understanding conflict constructively, and how they as individuals can help to create a healthy workplace.

The SWITCH event brings students together from different programs (BSN, Psychiatric Nursing, and Disability and Community Studies) to work on an ethics-based case study. Then the students converse on three different health related topics selected because of their timely, and complex, nature such as: vaccination, the legalization of cannabis, and medical assistance in dying. The students do a “speed switch” and within this relatively brief time frame, each student briefly shares their own views on the topics. The goal is that students learn to appreciate distinct and diverse world views, build awareness of their own assumptions and biases towards these topics, as well as exchange ideas in a respectful and professional manner. This unique event allows every voice at the table to be heard, and boosts the collective intelligence of a team.

The well-attended morning event looks and feels like a conference, and includes a hot breakfast. After this term’s event, the students were able to provide feedback through an online survey on how SWITCH benefited their learning and how they plan to take what their learned forward into their practice.

Faculty also involved in the planning and organization of this Winter’s event included: Jennifer Kane (BSN), Tracey McVey (PNUR) and Aaron Johannes (DACS).

We would like to acknowledge that we live, learn, work, and play on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples of the QayQayt and Kwikwetlem First Nations.

Ritual Dissent

There are people in post-secondary education who seek each other out for support and encouragement in developing exemplary practice. We (the learning designers) are fortunate in meeting with and sometimes introducing these dedicated instructors and staff to each other. Shannon Cox is one such educator who proposed recording an activity she uses in her Marketing course. Ritual Dissent, a classroom activity that involves students discussing a fellow-student’s work while the she is sitting nearby, with her back to the conversation, might seem like an unusual way to demonstrate whole-person learning (Shannon’s idea to record the activity came up in a Whole-Person Learning Community of Practice meeting).

The value lies in the listening that is required. The breakout group listens to the presentation intently, and then the student-presenter “listens in” on their respectful (guidelines are provided by the instructor) dissent or disagreement with the presenters assumptions, or suggestions of alternate approaches.

Listen to a discussion with Shannon, Steven, and Hope where she describes the whole process and answers the learning designers’ questions